Arlington: home for about 400,000 people, the Texas Rangers, the University of Texas at Arlington, Dallas Cowboys games, Six Flags and one bus route with stops in three places.
Sometimes known as the biggest U.S. city without public transit, Arlington never adopted a bus route until 2013 with the Metro ArlingtonXpress service.
The MAX, operated by Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, stops near the AT&T Stadium and UTA before traveling to the Texas Railway Express CentrePoint/DFW Airport station off Texas 360 and Trinity Boulevard.
It’s not that convenient for Arlington residents, but it does provide transportation for commuting UTA students, students who want to go to other places in the Metroplex and visiting stadium-goers.
The service is set to expire at the end of the year, but the City Council votes Tuesday on a possible year-long extension. It would cost around $708,000.
The MAX service isn’t supposed to be a permanent solution. The city’s Transportation Advisory Committee will present recommendations to the City Council by December 2017, but without the MAX service extension, it would leave some commuters without transportation.
Councilman Charlie Parker is critical of the MAX and its lack of success. The target was to get about 500 riders daily, but it never hit its mark. Since 2013, an average of 279 “trips,” or one-way riders, use the MAX bus daily.
But the data also show something else. The number of riders jumps up every September and October. One could hypothesize that incoming UTA students try the bus but see it doesn’t fully fit their needs and then don’t ride as much.
So there is a potential of making the MAX, or another transportation plan, economically feasible.
About 12 percent of UTA students are international students, and about 10,000 students live on or near campus. These students can find themselves trapped downtown without a car.
This is something the committee should take a good long look at when devising a permanent solution.
It’s good that the City Council and its committee are giving this serious thought and determining possible ways for Arlington to have more accessible public transportation.
Some buses are better than none.
Giving MAX a fair shake while implementing a better public transportation solution would be the best route for Arlington.